Celebrating The New Student Center


Ceremony celebrates final construction beam in new student center


A tower crane carried the final beam of the new East Carolina University student center to its destination under a beautiful blue, fall sky on Oct. 4.

Ten years in the making, ECU administrators, faculty, staff and students gathered at the building site off 10th Street for a topping off, or topping out, ceremony to commemorate the installation of the final beam in the construction project.

“This signals the construction project is well on its way to completion,” said Dr. Cecil Staton, chancellor of ECU. “It will be a living room for our university.”

Scheduled to open in November 2018, the 210,000-square-foot facility – almost the equivalent of four and a half football fields – will house many student-focused departments including SGA, the Office of Student Activities and Organizations, Ledonia Wright Cultural Center, the Jesse Peel LGBT Resource Center and Dowdy Student Stores. Amenities will include a black box theater, a 14,000-square-foot ballroom, six dining options and a 24-by-42 outdoor Pirate Vision digital screen. A 700-space parking deck also is being built.

The center is part of the $160 million ECU Student Centers Project, which includes the Health Sciences Campus Student Center that opened in May.

La’Quon Rogers

La’Quon Rogers, ECU SGA president, signs the final beam in the student center construction project.

“It’s a great day to be a Pirate,” said La’Quon Rogers, SGA president. “It’s a distinct honor and privilege to take part in this moment that will become history.”

He said the student center will be a “home away from home” for many students, who will be able to eat, collaborate, study and have fun.

Jeff Yelton of Perkins+Will architectural firm said the design team asked students early on what they wanted in the center. “Next fall, what you will see is a building designed to reflect what we heard,” he said. “I’m very proud to see the building come to life and be a part of transforming the lives of ECU students to come.”

Signatures filled the purple and gold beam before it was hoisted overhead by workers from T.A. Loving/Barnhill, the construction managers of the project.

More than 1,200 workers and more than 45 contractors have worked six days a week, providing in excess of 330,000 hours of labor to date, said Dr. Virginia Hardy, vice chancellor for student affairs. In addition, more than 20,000 cubic yards of concrete have been poured for the facility.

After Hurricane Matthew last fall, about 1 million gallons of water were pumped from the construction site, yet the project remains on schedule, she said.

“It took thousands and thousands of people involved in the success of this project,” said Tom Daniel, ECU alumnus and senior project manager for T.A. Loving/Barnhill. “It took more than 1,200 individuals with boots on the ground to put this building in place. They have worked days, nights and weekends to bring us to this point today.”

Kieran Shanahan, chair of the ECU Board of Trustees, said it’s important to mark milestones like the topping out event because “it lets you know you’re in solidarity with those who came before you.”

Shanahan, who attended the 2015 groundbreaking for the building, encouraged the students at the ceremony to remember the moment. “One day you’ll bring your children here,” he said.

The center will replace Mendenhall Student Center, which will be repurposed for other uses. Mendenhall was built in 1974 for a student population of 11,000. ECU has grown to more than 29,000 students today.

Worker on a beam

The beam signed in the topping off ceremony on Oct. 4 is placed at the top of the new ECU Student Center.

Taken from ECU News Services

Celebrating the new student center